What Can Deepwater Operators Do … (Part I of III)

to Help Improve Drilling Safety and Ensure Well Integrity?

A recent report, “Effects of Water Depth Workshop”, published in March of 2011, was on a study coordinated by the Argonne National Lab (ANL) for the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on the effects of water depth on offshore equipment and operations. This two-day workshop in November 2011 consisted of 6 committees comprised of deepwater energy industry experts and federal regulators. Each committee authored a corresponding white paper that achieved two objectives: 1) first to “identify the critical issues and effects of water depth on equipment and operations” and 2) second “determine the adequacy of current regulations.” Free downloads of the EWD report are available from both the ANL and BSEE websites. One of the two versions (534 vs. 244 pages) to download has the workshop presentations included for more information.

Everyone involved in this successful workshop did a great job which resulted into an excellent study and comprehensive report on many critical items to help prepare low risk deepwater well designs and conduct safe drilling and completions operations. Halliburton thanks all involved for their contributions to this successful project.

While we may publish future blog articles on new industry standards and government regulations and the other important items covered in the EWD study report, this blog article is limited to a discussion of future industry needs as described in the EWD report, Technical Summary of Workshop Session #3 –Well Drilling and Completion Design and Barriers where I will divide it into three separate blog articles (or parts). The white paper was prepared by the Session #3 industry committee and discusses drilling and completion challenges, current solutions with pros/cons noted, and future developments needed to fill some tech gaps. We will highlight the future development needs under the heading B) Trends and/or Notable Technologies Envisioned for the Near- & Longterm in the following paragraphs and provide more information. When these developments are commercially available and proven reliable, they should significantly help improve drilling safety and ensure long-term well integrity.

First Development Need – Equipment for HPHT Reservoirs

White Paper Comments: 3) HPHT Reservoirs: “Prospects have been identified that will require wellhead systems, well control equipment, and subsea trees with working pressure capacity in excess of 15,000 psi. This equipment is under development and is not expected to be ready for use for a number of years.”

Regulator Comments: What about this relationship with respect to high or extreme temperature as this would affect the BHA, logging tools, completion equipment, any perhaps other well design materials and practices?

Halliburton Comments:

Some types of well equipment rated to 20,000 psi have been used for many years for hydraulic fracturing operations such as “treesavers” (aka. wellhead isolation tool) for wellheads and “frac” pumps. The MV Skandi Fjord  and other offshore stimulation vessels successfully have used intensifier and other types of 20K rated pumping equipment for many years. Mud pumping equipment rated at 20,000 psi working pressure has also been field proven such as Halliburton’s “Grizzly” HQ-2000 mud pump unit equipped with 20K components (3 3/8″ plungers, lines, etc.).

In 2009, RigZone reported that the world’s first 20000 psi subsea wellhead was being developed for Anadarko. More recently in an Offshore article, FMC reported that their HC-20 subsea 20K rated wellhead was being installed in the Gulf of Mexico on a deepwater Anadarko well. These technologies and experience should help speed up the availability of similar equipment for deepwater HPHT wells and drilling rigs.

[toggle title=”Learn More About Ron Sweatman”] Ron Sweatman
Chief Technical Professional – Halliburton’s Global Technical Solutions and Deepwater Team based in Houston.

Ron Sweatman has 42 years of experience in several well construction and production/injection technologies. Ron majored in Chemistry at Louisiana State University and in Petroleum Engineering at University of Louisiana, Lafayette. He has served on 20 industry committees, co-authored over 60 technical publications, received six industry awards, and invented 30 patented technologies. Ron has a broad range of oilfield-services experience, including assignments in laboratory testing, engineering design, field operations, regional management, and technical support groups. His deepwater experience started in 1978 working on the Baltimore Canyon well in 2,686 feet of water on the Atlantic Ocean Outer Continental Shelf and has continued in other offshore areas including the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa, and North Sea.

For more information, please feel free to contact me.

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